HP Unveils Powerful ZBook x2, the 'First Detachable PC Workstation'

Today’s topics include HP’s ZBook x2 release; a new House bill enabling businesses to pursue cyber-criminals; Google’s progress in removing extremist YouTube videos; and Microsoft’s release of Azure Government Secret.

On Oct. 18 at the Adobe MAX conference, HP introduced the ZBook x2, calling it “the world’s most powerful and first detachable PC workstation.” Designed and built with Adobe in mind, it appeals directly to digital media professionals with its preinstalled Adobe-friendly features, including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Premiere. It also includes a year's subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud.

HP said it designed the ZBook x2 to solve the performance and mobility needs of artists, designers and digital imaging professionals who need to “push Adobe Creative Cloud and other professional applications to the limit.”

ZBook x2 includes four modes, a Bluetooth keyboard and a batteryless pen. It is priced at $1,749 and is equipped with either seventh- or eighth-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 CPUs.

The Active Cyber Defense Certainty Act, introduced last March by Rep. Thomas Graves in the U.S. House of Representatives, if passed, would give companies the legal protection needed to pursue and identify hackers over the Internet. The bill would carve out exemptions in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 to allow companies to utilize computers and networks without authorization, but only to attribute or disrupt an attack, retrieve or destroy stolen files, or monitor attackers.

“ACDC brings some light into the dark places where cyber-criminals operate,” Graves said Oct. 13. “The certainty the bill provides will empower individuals and companies to use new defenses against cyber-criminals. I also hope it spurs a new generation of tools and methods to level the lopsided cyber battlefield, if not give an edge to cyber defenders,” he added.

The bill does not eliminate the penalties for unauthorized access—which is a controversial part of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act—but gives an exemption where self-defense is “clearly justified.”

In an Oct. 17 update on its YouTube blog, Google said its automated machine-learning tools are getting better at removing video content on YouTube that violates content policies. Google also has more people reviewing potentially offensive videos and implemented tougher standards for borderline extremist videos.

Eighty-three percent of the videos removed from YouTube in September for depicting violent extremism were removed automatically rather than being flagged as offensive by viewers. That is an 8 percent improvement from August. Over one million videos have been reviewed in a bid to improve the automatic detection and removal capability.

"Inevitably, both humans and machines make mistakes, and as we have increased the volume of videos for review by our teams, we have made some errors," YouTube said in the blog. "We know we can get better and we are committed to making sure our teams are taking action on the right content."

Tom Keane, head of Global Infrastructure at Microsoft Azure, unveiled on Oct. 17 a new cloud offering called Azure Government Secret, which is aimed at "government agencies and partners who have secret classified data.”

"Azure Government Secret will deliver multi-tenant cloud infrastructure and cloud capabilities to U.S. Federal Civilian, Department of Defense, Intelligence Community, and U.S. Government partners working within secret enclaves," Keane said. In addition to providing traditional infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service functionality, Azure Government Secret will offer access to cutting-edge technology, “including services such as cognitive capabilities, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics," according to Keane.

Microsoft is also offering Blockchain for Azure Government, which will enable users to develop, test and deploy their own blockchain applications.